Following the real-life story of two long-life friends George and Doc, HEART, BABY! focuses on their time together (and apart) in prison. Director Angela Shelton guides us through the story with Gbenga Akinnagbe as George, a phenomenal boxer sentenced to 40 years for armed robbery. With training and support from his best friend Doc (Jackson Rathbone), he partakes in several prison based matches.
Following this, the prison bosses vow to take him to victory in the 1984 Olympics, but with Doc in solitary confinement following the murder of another prisoner, George has a huge decision to make. With freedom at his fingertips, George has to choose between life on the outside alone or life on the inside with his transgender cell-mate and soul-mate Crystal (Shawn-Caulin Young).
When George chooses Crystal, he sees the wrath of not only the wardens but also the inmates. He is heckled and labeled a ‘fag’, but when his best friend Doc returns to the real world of the prison, he only has one response – shock. Doc questions why George has never confided in him but explains how happy he is that his best friend has found true love.
When the bosses decide to remove Crystal from the prison to punish both her and George, his best friend (and some surprising characters) do all they can to make sure George and his true love are reunited.
HEART, BABY! is a beautiful journey following the true life story of George Lee Martin and those that surrounded him during his life in prison. From murderous moments within the prison cells to the true understanding of true love, each scene is perfectly crafted, drawing you into their dangerous and charming world.
Crystal is played with grace and dignity, as we see her fighting to fit in as a woman in a prison full of (mostly) men. The way her character has been portrayed is nothing short of wonderful, and I totally admire Shawn-Caulin Young’s performance throughout the film. He seems to create a magical and enchanting character in the form of Crystal, and I for one could see why George would fall in love with her.
The soundtrack flashes from upbeat tunes to sentimental recreations of songs sung by the real people behind this moving tale. Throughout the film, there are harrowing scenes of gang rape, murder, and abuse, but they are handled with care thanks to wonderful writing, perfect direction, and outstanding casting. I simply adored how the characters developed throughout the movie, opening their eyes to the differences amongst their fellow inmates.
This film is centered around one crucial point – true love. To recreate this gritty, backstreet boxing romance would have been no mean feat, but it has been created with respect and passion.
The sentiment within this movie is beyond words, and both Gbenga Akinnagbe and Jackson Rathbone should be thoroughly commended for their strong performances, along with Shawn-Caulin Young.
I admit I spent the final scenes of the film ugly crying. With unexpected twists and scenes of selflessness, this film certainly has heart, baby…
Heart, Baby! Review
Synopsis - George and Doc, best friends from reform school to life in prison where George becomes an unbeatable prison boxer, with songwriter Doc as his cornerman. When George is offered freedom to fight in the 1984 Olympics he shocks everyone by turning it down, sending Doc on a journey to discover the true meaning of friendship, faith, and heart.